Mr Bala (seated, left) at an event.
WE’VE crossed paths many times. The first was in 1973 at the Methodist Secondary School in Sungai Siput (U), Perak when Mr BalaSupramaniam or Mr Bala became our class teacher.
I was in Form Four then and apart from having him as our “home” teacher, it was such a pleasure to have Mr Bala as our English master.
I enjoyed listening to his many anecdotes even if they digressed from the core topic of his lessons. However, those unforgettable moments enriched his lessons and enlightened our perceptions of life.
Sitting for the Malaysia Certificate of Education (MCE) exam the following year meant the end of my secondary schooling and bidding farewell to our alma mater.
I presumed then with a heavy heart that the academic outing I had over the last two years with this nurturing teacher was to come to an end.
However, it was a wonderful surprise that our paths crossed again when I entered the Teacher Training College. Mr Bala was a lecturer there.
Over the years, we bumped into each other at the mall or the wet market, often exchanging happy and sad news or just reminiscing about our past.
In 2014, during the school reunion we met yet again. Mr Bala was about to retire from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman as a senior lecturer. Upon retirement, he said that he would like to travel around the world. Mr Bala will always be remembered as a counsellor, friend, lecturer, mentor, orator and a source of inspiration, but most of all he is the quintessential teacher. Somehow, he was instrumental in influencing my vocation as a teacher and lecturer.
I am still trying to emulate this phenomenal person who continues to receive accolades not just from me, but his numerous students. To celebrate Teachers Day and our 44 years of association, I would like to pay tribute to you, Sir.
Happy Teachers Day, Mr Bala. — Faridah Hanum Ghazali